As the West increases its pressure on Iran, the latest effort being a concerted campaign to impose an oil embargo on Tehran, China finds itself in a tough dilemma.
As Tehran’s largest trading partner and customer for its crude exports (about 20% of Iranian oil goes to China), China’s co-operation is critical if the West’s plan to force Iran to stop uranium enrichment is to succeed.
Yet it is far from clear that China will go along with such a plan.
When the US Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner visited Beijing in early January to press Chinese leaders on Iran, his Chinese hosts politely said no.
But given the importance of ties with the West, particularly the US, China cannot completely ignore such pressure and continue business as usual in trading with Iran either.